Feature Article - November/December 2017

Travel Smart

Advances in Luggage & Travel Goods Make Adventure Easy

By Emily Tipping


What's your perfect getaway? A weekend by the ocean? A cabin in the mountains? Taking in a few shows and sights in the big city? A retreat to the woods?

Everyone's preferences, when it comes to travel, are unique. But one thing is universal: We all need a place to stow our stuff. And that's one of the things that makes luggage and other travel goods such a powerful motivator and reward. It has universal appeal, and it's closely connected with our favorite adventures. Even better if you reward your program participants with the newest, most trendy travel gear. With continuing advances in technology and creative new features, modern luggage makes it simple to get from point A to point B, having fun all along the way.

"Travel goods are a fun category because when an award winner is gifted a new piece or set of luggage, it immediately evokes that wanderlust that resides in many of us," said Chad Glamann, marketing manager for Top Brands Inc. "It's hard not to think of that vacation spot you've been planning to see or simply visiting family and friends when selecting that next piece of luggage."

"Whether for business or pleasure, travelers demand quality luggage that is durable, lightweight and stylish," said Andy Hudson, marketing manager for Incentive Concepts. "Over the years, we have found that most travelers typically ignore luggage in their usual shopping habits. But, when presented with an opportunity to upgrade their luggage through a corporate gifting or other incentive program, luggage ranks as one of the most popular redemption categories. With this in mind, luggage can be one of the most effective categories to reward employees, customers and partners."

Travel goods are a fun category because when an award winner is gifted a new piece or set of luggage, it immediately evokes that wanderlust that resides in many of us.

What's more, like your choice in destinations, your choice in the gear you use to pack what you need is reflective of your personality.

Luggage, said Allyson Krichman, senior director of product sales for Rymax Marketing Services Inc., is similar to handbags, in that it's "… fashionable and functional at the same time." She added, "It's a representation of yourself and your personality. There's lots of options and it's always about the functionality, ease of life, ease of use and comfortability. It's all about personal preference and style."

Smarter and Smarter

When it comes to the latest trends, George Cassius, president of Earth Gear Corporation, said it's all about one thing: "Smart luggage, smart luggage, smart luggage." His company works with multiple options in smart luggage, featuring everything from location trackers and remote locks to digital scales, battery chargers and more—all smart features designed to ease travel, whether it's knowing how much your bag weighs before you go over the limit, or simply knowing where your bag is.

"I think the latest and greatest is all about the functionality," Krichman said. "With us having such a diverse portfolio, we have brought in some great Smart options. For example, Raden has a USB charger in the actual luggage, as well as a built-in scale."

You can see the future of travel with the A28 Single Case from Raden, available through Rymax Marketing Services Inc. As the lightest Smart suitcase on the market, this sleek yet spacious suitcase is made with a durable polycarbonate shell that only weighs 13 pounds. The A28 is carefully designed to help travelers reach their destination confidently and effortlessly. It is equipped with two built-in USB ports to charge handheld devices and laptops, so there's no need to crowd around airport charging stations. It also includes a TSA-approved built-in lock, a built-in scale so travelers can avoid paying overweight baggage fees, proximity sensors, a waterproof seal and 360-degree maneuverability.

Brighter, Lighter & Tougher

It's hard not to think of that vacation spot you've been planning to see or simply visiting family and friends when selecting that next piece of luggage.

Asked about the latest trends in luggage, Scott Whitehead, director of Special Markets for Samsonite LLC, said, "We are seeing a move to hardside luggage vs. the traditional softside. Four-wheel spinners is also becoming the norm in both carry-on and checked bag. There is also a big move to underseaters becoming popular with travelers." In addition, he said that while black continues to be a best seller, other colors, including blue, orange and purple, are trending.

"There is such a breadth of color options available now for travelers that it's easier than ever to find that look that fits your own personal taste," Glamann said. "Touch and feel still play an important factor when selecting luggage, and the best options here are expanding as well, with new lightweight materials, like Plenium, which can be found on the Delsey Bastille Lite collection."

"We continue to see the predominance of hardsided luggage," said Mike Landry, vice president of special markets for Tumi Inc. "Hardsided started in the Pacific Rim and to a lesser extent Europe about six or seven years ago, and it has gained in prominence in North America for two reasons. First, there's a perception that a hardside bag will protect the traveler's stuff. But second, and the biggest driver by far, is the weight factor. In real estate, everything is location, location, location. In luggage, it's lightness, lightness, lightness. …It's a huge factor, and something the market is demanding. Tumi can make a hardsided bag significantly lighter than a more traditional, framed ballistic nylon bag."